Departmental Seminar

Phase Transitions in Particle Physics: Breaking the Strong Interaction

Professor Chris Allton
Department of Physics, Swansea University

QCD, the strong interaction of particle physics which binds quarks together into hadrons, has a rich phase structure, much of which is not fully understood. At low temperatures, the QCD interaction has a linearly rising potential and has the familiar confining properties where quarks are bound into hadrons. At temperatures above several trillion Kelvin, QCD exists as a quark gluon plasma, which is a relatively weakly interacting phase where quarks are not bound into hadrons. This plasma phase existed briefly in the very early Universe, and, incredibly, can be reproduced in particle experiments in e.g. CERN where heavy lead nuclei are collided in the Large Hadron Collider.

This talk will review studies of hadrons as the temperature increases using the theoretical tool of Lattice Gauge Theory. These provide crucial inputs for models of interactions in the heavy nuclei experiments aiding the interpretation of the experimental results. This approach uses supercomputer simulations and draws heavily from statistical mechanics ideas.

Bio: Australian by birth, education and outlook, I've enjoyed living in Scotland, England, Italy and Wales where I've been based for over two decades. 

Apart from physics, I have become increasingly involved with public engagement of science and founded the Oriel Science project. Outside work, I spend my time  running, cycling, swimming, pretend guitar playing, wine tasting and being with my kids (although not necessarily in that order). My research specialises in predicting the properties of protons and neutrons using pen and paper and a very large slice of computer time.... 

I obtained my B.Sc. from the University of Queensland, Brisbane, and my Ph.D. from the Australian National University, Canberra. My postdoc career began with a brief stint in Edinburgh followed by appointments in Southampton and Rome. I've been on the lecturing staff in the Department of Physics, Swansea University, ever since.

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